1. Your child does a face-plant off the playground slide and knocks her tooth loose. Head to the ER?
No. Call the dentist instead. That's whom the ER doctor is probably going to call herself, says Dr. Zibners. Assuming it's a baby tooth that's affected, the dentist is likely to pull it if it's dangling. "You don't want your child to inhale a tooth that's been knocked loose, but other than that, it's usually more of a cosmetic issue," says Karen Frush, M.D., a pediatric emergency room doctor and chief patient safety officer at Duke University Health System in Durham, NC. Another reason to call your D.D.S.: If the tooth gets shoved into the gum, it might damage the developing adult tooth, and the dentist will need to treat that, too.
If a baby tooth is whacked completely clear of the mouth, there's no need to save it. But if a bigger kid knocks out a permanent chomper, put it in a cup of milk and bring it and your child to the dentist immediately; he may be able to reimplant it. The only (very rare) exception to the ER rule, says Dr. Zibners: If you can't find the tooth, and your kid is wheezing, coughing, or can't breathe, bring her to the hospital or call 911 because it could be lodged in her lung.
2. Your baby pulls up on the coffee table, grins, and then yanks a mug of hot tea on herself. Head to the ER?
Yes, if the burn covers a large part of her body; if it's on her face, hands, feet, or genitals; or if it's a third-degree burn, which is highly unlikely from a hot beverage. Otherwise, treat her at home and act fast: "The very first thing to do is get the hot liquid off the body," says Dr. Zibners. "This means either ripping off her shirt or plunking her into a cold shower. If it's only a small part of the hand or arm that's been burned, running cold water over the limb in the sink will stop further injury to the skin and provide immediate pain relief." Keep it there until the area is cool to the touch.
What not to do: Don't apply any home remedies such as butter, oil, mayonnaise, or petroleum jelly to the burn. "They create a barrier that holds the heat in," she says, which can make the burn deeper. For first-degree burns (the skin is red) or minor second-degree burns (superficial blisters), use an antibiotic ointment or cream after cooling, and cover with a bandage. You can also give some over-the-counter pain medication if needed, and apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel after you've dressed the wound.